5 Compelling Reasons to Retire Later Than Planned

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Happy senior man sipping coffee in the park on an autumn day and checking his smartphone
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Nearly every worker has dreamed of retiring and leaving the rat race behind. For some, it’s an occasional daydream. Others obsess over the thought for much of their working lives.

But just like everything else in life, retirement has its shadow side: It’s not all mornings on the golf course or day trips to undiscovered romantic hideaways.

Once you retire, you will give up some important — even irreplaceable — things. With that in mind, here are a few reasons you should retire later than you planned.

You will be richer

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It sounds crazy, but simply working for an additional three to six months beyond your planned retirement date can increase your retirement income by as much as if you had saved an extra 1% a year for 30 years prior to ending work.

That’s the conclusion of the study “The Power of Working Longer,” a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. What accounts for the increased wealth? By working a few months longer, you boost your monthly Social Security benefit. That will have positive financial ramifications for the rest of your life.

Working longer provides other undeniable financial benefits. For example, continuing to work means you’ll probably get longer access to annual matching funds in your 401(k) plan.

Finally — and most obviously — by working longer, you’ll bring in an income for a longer period of time. As far as we can tell, the end result of earning more money is that … well, you generally end up with more money.

You will be healthier

Healthy Wage
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A 2009 University of Maryland study found that people between the ages of 51 and 61 who continued to work had fewer major illnesses and disabilities than their peers who retired.

Several other studies have reached similar conclusions. For example, a 2013 study found that working longer in life might help prevent dementia.

If you can’t stand the thought of continuing the 40-hour grind of working at some faceless corporation, take heart: The University of Maryland study found that improved health was associated with any type of working — from full time to part time, and self-employment to temporary gigs.

You will have stronger relationships

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Isn’t it funny how some people who are deeply in love can’t stand the thought of being around each other for more than a few hours?

In retirement, you and your spouse may end up together 24/7 — perhaps for the first time in your marriage. That kind of “togetherness” is enough to strain the bonds of the strongest unions.

Quitting work also might deprive you of close friendships that you have built in the office over years, possibly even decades.

Delaying retirement can be just the right move to keep marital and friendship bonds strong.

You will have better health insurance

Senior health care
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Insurance obtained through a group plan — such as that provided by your employer — is cheaper and better than just about any type of coverage you can get on your own.

By delaying retirement and continuing to work for a company, you’ll reap the benefits of robust, affordable health coverage until you qualify for Medicare at age 65.

You will have a chance to give back

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Most of us are grateful to live in a nation that has provided us with unlimited opportunity and unprecedented prosperity. Think about it: Of all the human beings who have ever lived, you are arguably among the very luckiest simply because you are an American.

If you disagree — well, maybe you are too distracted by your iPhone, your new SUV or your 2½ bathrooms to have thought about it.

Continuing to work gives you a chance to give back for all your good fortune. Perhaps working longer means simply paying taxes back to the nation that has given you so much. Or maybe it’s something simpler, like sticking around to mentor the new kid in the office who may take the professional lessons you provide and use them as fuel for his or her own career goals.

There are a million ways that simply showing up to your 9-to-5 makes the world a better place — both for you and your community as a whole.

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